TEA Connect Blog

15 February 2017

TEA leadership meets in Universal City for 2017 Strategic Planning Meeting


Themed Entertainment Association (TEA) leadership met in Universal City for the annual Strategic Planning Meeting (SPM), Jan 19-20. The TEA International Board comes together with Division heads, past presidentsCommittee chairs and TEA staff to discuss issues, policy, achievements and future direction for the organization.

TEA leadership and staff gathered in Universal City for the
2017 Strategic Planning Meeting. Colleagues met and greeted one another at
an informal mixer the eve of the meeeting and the next morning, and then
got down to business. The late Peter Chernack and Kathryn Griffiths
were remembered.

Honoring Peter Chernack and Kathryn Griffiths; thanking Universal

TEA lost two important leaders in recent months: Peter Chernack and Kathryn Griffiths, and the presence and contributions of both will be very much missed.

TEA Past President and industry veteran Peter Chernack of The Chernack Group was vital to the creation and mission of the TEA Past Presidents Committee and the establishment of the TEA Service Award. He passed away last spring shortly after the Thea Awards Gala.

TEA Founder and Past President Monty Lunde of Technifex spoke of Peter's value to the TEA. The TEA Service Award has been renamed in Peter's honor and will be awarded to him this year posthumously at the Thea Awards Gala April 22. 

Kathryn Griffiths of Universal Creative was an enthusiastic mentor and supporter of TEA NextGen members and helping women to advance in themed entertainment positions.

Photos for TEA by Martin Palicki. Find many more photos on the
TEA Facebook Page at this link.

As liason and TEA International Board Member, Kathryn was instrumental in Universal Studios Hollywood hosting the 2017 SPM gathering in the Globe Theater. 

Paul Osterhout of Universal Creative has stepped into Kathryn's former seat on the Board and spoke some words in her memory on the first day of meetings. On the second day, there was more Kathryn appreciation in an address by Karen Irwin, President and COO, Universal Studios Hollywood, who graciously made time to address our group. 

We made the most of the location and with the kind cooperation of Universal Studios, our group took a very enjoyable break from intense discussions to enjoy some outstanding examples of what our business is all about. Many thanks to all at Universal who facilitated our enriching experience of the new Walking Dead attraction, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, and a meal at Krustyland.

These activities were made even more enjoyable, educational,

Expressive moments from the 2017 Strategic Planning Meeting
of the Themed Entertainment Association, Jan 19-20 at 
the Globe Theater at Universal Studios Hollywood. 
Photos for TEA by Martin Palicki.

exciting and delicious through being accompanied and explained in person by superstars of Universal Studios Hollywood - John Murdy (Creative Director), Stephen Siercks (Senior Director, Entertainment Production), Benjamin Salisbury (Director of Operations), Kirk Trutner (Senior Manager, Special Event Production), Chef Eric Kopelow (VP, Food Operations) - and of Universal Creative: Gene Dobryzyn (Senior Vice President & Executive Project Director) and Jon Corfino (Senior Director & Executive Producer). 

With newly installed International Board President David Willrich of DJ Willrich Ltd. presiding over the two days of meetings, the discussion included reports from each of TEA's four international Division and from Committees, with special presentations to focus on timely issues and initiatives that are still in formative or conceptual stages.

The meeting addressed such topics as how to continue to adapt to serve global growth of the industry, especially in Asia and China, the possibility of creating a new Division for the North American Midwest region and other areas,

Check out the food! Many thanks to Universal for a delicious,
hospitable and unique Strategic Planning Meeting experience. 

communications and branding, strategic alliances with other trade organizations, budgeting, governance and staffing.

There was also discussion of TEA's major annual events, conferences and publications (such as SATE, TEA Summit, Thea Awards, the TEA/AECOM Theme Index and the TEA Project Development Guidelines). In general, the conversation was about ensuring that TEA continues to grow, flourish and stay on mission to serve themed entertainment markets and be responsive to the needs of its membership, business community and their markets. 

Presenters included TEA Past President Steve Thorburn of Thorburn Associates, who talked about TEA's significant progress on multiple fronts since his term several years ago; Adam Bezark of The Bezark Company, who spoke on behalf of the Thea Awards Committee and opened discussion for ideas on how the Theas might be expanded; and Josh Updike of Rethink Leisure &

TEA International Board President David Willrich of DJ Willrich Ltd.
was installed in November 2016,
succeeding Steve Birket of Birket Engineering

Entertainment, who outlined progress on the concept for TEA's new "Masters of their Craft" awards initiative. 

TEA Past President Christine Kerr talked about the TEA Education Committee she founded and currently chairs, its expansion and its work helping shape content for TEA conferences, especially SATE. Arielle Rassel of Thinkwell Group who chairs the TEA NextGen Committee, updated the group on its status and some of its activities.

TEA COO Jennie Nevin and TEA Founder Monty Lunde

Committee presenters included Dale Sprague of Canyon Creative (Marketing & Communications) who reported on the very good performance of the TEA website and outlined plans for expansion, David Aion of Rethink (Membership) and Michael Mercadante (Finance). Judith Rubin talked about TEA's increasingly strong position in the press, its strong social media presence and the popularity of the TEA/AECOM

Theme Index & Museum Index. Eastern N.A. Division Board member

The presence and participation of Peter Chernack and Kathryn Griffiths
were very much missed this year. We mourn, honor and remember them
both with fondness and gratitude.

Brian Sands who heads the research team for the Theme Index was on hand to answer questions that came up. Questions and open discussion on all topics raised were encouraged and the group participated fully.

TEA COO Jennie Nevin shared numbers demonstrating the association's encouraging growth in terms of membership, sponsorship, marketing, and sheer number of events - most of

which are consistently selling out or at capacity, including TEA's mixers, behind the scenes tours, conferences, the TEA presence at IAAPA and the Thea Awards Gala. 

The day after the SPM, several TEA leaders took to the road for a motorcycle outing in the great California outdoors, as pictured here. (There will be a separate story and more pictures coming soon.)

Maris Ensing, David Willrich, Monty Lunde, Steve Birket, David Geoghegan
More photos of the motorcycle ride here: http://bit.ly/2kXLhaJ

Our association is celebrating its 25th year and we have a lot of progress and success to look back on as we embrace the challenges of the future. TEA depends in large part on dedicated volunteers such as those who turned out in force for the 2017 meeting - we extend warm appreciation and thanks to every one of them, as well as all other TEA volunteers and supporters who help keep the organization alive and productive, in collaboration with TEA's hardworking staff. These volunteers tend to remain with TEA for years and decades, often throughout their careers. They are dedicated and passionate  because they understand the many benefits that accrue from being involved, helping the association and

the industry grow, improve and thrive - and, let's face it, because they can't help it - most people who enter the attractions industry simply get hooked: they love what they do and form deep ties. If you're interested in becoming more active within TEA, don't hesitate to step up, no matter what part of the globe you are in. Contact your local Division or speak to a Committee member about your interest, skills and strengths. 

-- Article by Judith Rubin



Posted by Judith Rubin



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